When her date said he needed to stop at a bank, the 40-year-old Massachusetts woman had no reason to be suspicious.
But moments later Christopher Castillo came sprinting back to her car, sweating profusely and clutching a gun, hat, sunglasses and $1,000 in cash. He urged the woman to speed away. And their first date quickly turned into a slow-motion disaster as Castillo tangled with police officers and the woman unwittingly found herself becoming a suspected accessory to a bank heist.
Castillo, 33, was sentenced to five years in prison on Tuesday after pleading guilty to robbery and assault charges stemming from the botched 2016 rendezvous, the Attleboro Sun Chronicle reported. According to the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office, he had met the 40-year-old woman on an online dating app, though it’s not clear which one.
The two met for the first time on Dec. 5, 2016, when the woman picked Castillo up at his parents’ house in Rhode Island, then drove roughly a half-hour to North Attleborough, Massachusetts, where she lived. She later told prosecutors that Castillo had sat in the passenger seat and downed wine as she drove, so the Monday afternoon date was already off to a strange start.
At his request, she pulled over to let him out at the Bristol County Savings Bank, according to WHDH. But when he hurriedly returned to the Nissan Maxima, it quickly became clear that he wasn’t just making an ATM withdrawal.
Castillo had informed a teller he was “really hurting” and needed money, then flashed an antique gun that belonged to his stepfather, the station reported. Hopping back into the Nissan, he swore at his date and told her to hurry up and go.
The woman told police that she panicked when Castillo commanded her to drive and followed his orders, CNN reported. Moments later, blue flashing lights appeared in her rearview mirror.
It hadn’t been hard for police to track down Castillo — the robbery happened at 2:49 p.m., in broad daylight, and an officer who was in the area saw the Nissan drive by and noticed that the man in the passenger seat happened to meet the description of the suspect.
The woman immediately pulled into the parking lot of a Dunkin’ coffeehouse and stepped out of the car, the Sun Chronicle reported. But Castillo stayed in her Nissan, ducking down to hide from the police. When the officers tried to extricate him, he violently struggled and spat on them, authorities said.
“The gun isn’t even loaded,” he reportedly yelled before being taken into custody.
Initially, police thought the woman had been in on the scheme and charged her with being an accessory after the fact. She was arrested and held on $250,000 bail, according to the Sun Chronicle. But she insisted that she had never intended to be a getaway car driver, and prosecutors ultimately dropped the charges.
Castillo, who reportedly had an extensive criminal record that included convictions for larceny and domestic violence, didn’t get off so easily. On Tuesday, he was sentenced to three years in prison for armed robbery and two years in jail for assaulting the three police officers who arrested him, the Sun Chronicle reported. It’s unclear why it took more than three years for the case to be resolved.
“I am pleased the defendant was held accountable for this violent robbery and for spitting at the police officers,” Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn said in a statement. “This type of lawless behavior is simply not acceptable.”